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Lizzo Reminds Us The Root Of Success Lies In Sisterhood & Self-Love

Plus, the "Tempo" artist sets the record straight about why she's no longer body-positive, and instead body-normative.

Lizzo

As we enter the back half of 2020 and the pending presidential election, many of us are overwhelmed and stressed. In this 'new normal', where everything is virtual and social distancing is mandatory, the focus on well-being, from the inside out, has become a priority. Every day we're met with new techniques and tips to heal ourselves, cleanse our spirits, or take care of our mental health. One of the biggest proponents of that movement right now is Melissa Viviene Jefferson - more commonly known as Lizzo.

Lizzo sat down with Vogueto discuss sisterhood, being 'body-normative', and being of service to her culture. The interviews were taken over a three-month period that included #BlackoutTuesday and the historic announcement of Kamala Harris. In what seemed to be one of Lizzo's more revealing interviews, sisterhood and self-love are a prominent thread throughout.

Sisterhood is something Lizzo not only sings about but practices heavily IRL. The two most important members of her team, her DJ and her Creative Director, are her best friends. The three of them built this career from their bootstraps and continued to challenge each other to accomplish their individual dreams. And that bond doesn't just stop with her day ones.

"We have gone through so much since meeting each other. And we have always made sure that the relationship is what we prioritize. It's never been money. It's never been the career."

And that bond doesn't just stop with her day ones. In the interview, she remarks on her relationship with rap legend Missy Elliott and how they practice self-care for one another. She also credits manifestation a bit for her relationship with Missy.

"I don't know what happened first. Having the thoughts because it was gonna happen? Or having the thoughts and driving myself to make it happen? But knowing that it did, yeah, is incredible."

That sisterhood helped give her the confidence to take on other pressing issues in our world, like white supremacy, sexism, and fatphobia - to name a few. Like many of us, Lizzo feels constantly disappointed by the state of America and wants to facilitate the uncomfortable changes for the future. One step towards that is the adoption of 'body-normative', veering from the body positivity message she's known for. From doing the work to love herself, she's able to be a vessel of self-love for others.

"Now, you look at the hashtag 'body-positive,' and you see smaller-framed girls, curvier girls. Lotta white girls. And I feel no way about that because inclusivity is what my message is always about. I'm glad that this conversation is being included in the mainstream narrative.
"What I don't like is how the people that this term was created for are not benefiting from it. I would like to be body-normative. I want to normalize my body. And not just be like, 'Ooh, look at this cool movement. Being fat is body positive.' No, being fat is normal. I think now, I owe it to the people who started this to not just stop here."

Lizzo truly wants to be in service of her culture, but she knows that comes with a lot of self-love and care. She touches on the importance of the world's perspective of her because that impacts young women that look like her. And while she's excited for the potential for the first Black woman as a Vice President, she hopes it comes with real change.

"A lot of times I feel like we get distracted by the veneer of things. If things appear to be better, but they're not actually better, we lose our sense of protest."

To read Lizzo's October cover story in full, head over to Vogue.com.

Featured image via Giphy

When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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